Wolters Kluwer opens lobby shop in Washington

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Wolters Kluwer Health has appointed its first VP-government affairs as the publishing giant seeks to head off state restrictions on commercial use of prescription data.

The company named longtime healthcare lobbyist Cathy Betz to the position. Betz has been a partner in her husband's Washington, DC, health policy consulting firm, Robert Betz Associates, for a quarter-century.

Wolters Kluwer's Healthcare Analytics unit, part of its Pharma Solutions business, offers prescribing pattern data. Last year, 23 states introduced legislation to restrict the sale or use of such data. In addition, Congress has been showing increasing interest of late in the potential influence of pharmaceutical firms on medical journals and CME. In August, the company joined IMS Health and Verispan in lawsuits aimed at blocking Maine and Vermont from implementing laws, slated to take effect in 2008, that would curb the collection and disclosure of physician prescribing information.

In addition to prescriber data access, “We're focusing on any e-health initiatives and this whole transparency issue in general on the state and federal level,” said Betz. “That's what's interesting about these [state] initiatives – they're really going against the trend towards transparency and I think that's why they'll fail. At the federal level, they understand that, and they're moving towards more access to more data, more information and more transparency as a way to improve health outcomes.”

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